The lights are on. Let yourself in.

The lights are on. Let yourself in.

When my children were young, they would often request bedtime reading from the “poem” books, which meant from Shel Silverstein’s collections of Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Light in the Attic. And if they chose the latter, we always started with the first selection by the same name:

There’s a light on in the attic.

Though the house is dark and shuttered,

I can see a flickerin’ flutter,

And I know what it’s about.

There’s a light on in the attic.

I can see it from the outside,

And I know you’re on the inside…lookin’ out.

Those books are now worn from pencil scribbles, dog-eared corners, and faded, loose spines, after years of turning pages for kids begging to hear Backward Bill or The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt yet another time. On some of the favorite pages, you can find graham cracker crumbs lingering in the cracks of the inside folds.

I’m not sure the boys understood the full meaning of A Light in the Attic at the time, but it has always stayed with me in a metaphoric way. When I meet new people, the image of Silverstein’s drawing of the man with the forehead window sometimes floats across my screen, and I look to see if the person’s “lights” are on. Are they present in the current reality, or somewhere far away in their thoughts? Do they connect when you look at them? Do they project warmth, passion or general enthusiasm for life? Are they interested? And then I wonder what they might see in me. Are my lights on?

The first time I watched Boston Philharmonic Conductor Ben Zander’s TED Talk, I was struck by his definition of success:

“For me it’s very simple. It’s not about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many shining eyes I have around me.”

Shining eyes might be the looks of inspiration, passion or respect that surround people worth knowing—great leaders, humble servants, kind strangers. At the end of his talk, Zander asks, “Who am I being that my children’s eyes are not shining?” In other words, what are we projecting so that we inspire the people around us?

When I became a leadership development facilitator, Zander’s words were always on my mind, and have since become the feedback measurement by which I judge impact in our programs. Change is most often fueled by emotion, and inspiration is rocket fuel. If I see the lights come on in people’s eyes, I know I’ve done my job.

When we were designing The Villa Blog, we went around and around with templates, text, images, concepts, photographs and fonts. (If you’ve ever put together a website or a blog site, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Honestly, it’s not my favorite process, and I’m certain I’m not the easiest client to work with for our website builders. Thanks, Haley!) As we were brainstorming a tag line, we knew we wanted something really different—something that made you stop and think about what it meant.

We envisioned The Villa blog as a place—a way station along the busy roads of our lives. A place where weary travelers might stop for refreshment, connection with other travelers, and inspirational stories of others on the same journey who might offer us some advice, directions or a bit of courage to keep traveling the path.

“The lights are on. Let yourself in.”

We wrote it on a sticky note and put it up on the door of our office, where it remains today—for no other reason than that it reminds us of our purpose: To provide rich, thought-provoking, inspirational content to anyone who stops by The Villa.

We will keep our lights on by telling stories, sharing news, advocating for women, promoting courageous living, and offering our limited wisdom, gentle humor and lessons learned. Let yourself in and turn up your own lights.

We’ll see your shining eyes.